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12 июня, 17:38

Trump's Surge In Afghanistan

The Trump administration is on the brink of making decision on another ‘surge” in Afghanistan. A significant increase in American forces along with a mandate to engage directly in combat has been strongly pressed by National Security Advisor (General) H.R. McMaster, Secretary of Defense (General) James Mattis, and the Pentagon brass. Yet, there is still no clear statement of aim or measure of (unlikely) success. Is this another senseless gesture in the endless “war on terror?” What is the underlying logic? This latest attempt to fashion a Taliban-free Afghanistan raises the question of how rational is American foreign policy. Sending more troops to Afghanistan when you’ve failed miserably to achieve your (undefined) objective over the past 15 years with much larger contingents seems to defy reason. Several explanations, not excuses, come to mind. One is that there exists an implicit logic that is not acknowledged but salient for the person(s) involved. The Pentagon brass may well be less concerned about “winning” in Afghanistan, whatever that means, than they are living with the intolerable perception that they “lost.” No general cum security policy-maker wants to be saddled with the label of “loser.” That sensitivity can become institutionally generalized; Generals Mattis and McMaster are in little danger of being blamed personally for failure in Afghanistan. What seems to count is that they do not want the U.S. military to be stigmatized as a failure. They are acutely aware of how much the image of the uniformed military suffered as a result of America losing its first war in Vietnam. It follows that they might hope against hope that the outcome can be fudged enough so as to escape that fate.** There is a practical side to this concern, too. Failure, as perceived in the public eye, could tarnish the resplendent image so successfully cultivated during the “war on terror” era. That could translate into less support for bigger budgets, less lucrative consultancies after retirement, and less acclaim. And a weaker voice in policy debates. If one were to postulate that these are cardinal objectives, then campaigning to send several thousand more troops on a strategically pointless mission is logical – and the plan’s promoters not as obtuse as they appear. What of senior policy-makers in and around the White House who do not share those particular interests? A second reality to keep in mind is that governments are plural nouns – or, pronouns with multiple antecedents. The numerous organizations, bureaucracies and individuals involved in decision-making typically lead to a convoluted process wherein it is easy to lose track of purposes, priorities and coordination. Where little discipline is imposed by the chief, the greater the chances that the result will be contradictory, disjointed, sub-optimal and often poorly executed policies. That’s why the White House cried havoc about North Korea’s threat while the presumed coercive instrument sailed blissfully in the opposite direction heading for an extended shore leave. Finally, we should recognize that rigorous thinking is far from the norm - at the highest levels of government as well as in everyday life. It takes a combination of education/training, intellectual integrity, a cultivated sense of responsibility, discomfort with deciding on the basis of skimpy or suspect information, and an ingrained preference for knowing why you’re doing something instead of flying by the seat of your pants. True, when practiced and reinforced, rigorous thinking can become habitual – just like other modes of human behavior. There are multiple influences, though, that militate against that habit taking root and being sustained. They include the lure of celebrity, time pressures due to an excess of travel and/or summonses to mind-numbing TV interviews, long-tedious-inconclusive meetings (such as those presided over by Susan Rice which drove Chuck Hagel out of government), endless bureaucratic games-playing, distracted Chief Executives who demand ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers to complex issues. Altogether, the tumult can soften the toughest mind. Weaker minds simply latch onto whatever conventional wisdom and catch phrases are floating around in order to remain minimally functional in the kaleidoscopic setting of most administrations. All of these patterns with attendant adverse consequences are more likely to crystallize into stupid acts when the man nominally in charge lacks the intelligence, emotional stability, self-awareness and/or advisors to recognize either the requirements for sound policy-making or for implementation. A stubborn unwillingness to accept responsibility and to be held accountable exacerbates matters. A business career such as Trump’s is not the desired preparation. Not only is that world fundamentally different from the world of public affairs (and especially foreign policy) Further, Trump partially compensated for his flaws through coercion, cheating, and duplicity. And at the end of the day, he could rig the books. That modus operandi doesn’t fly in the Middle East or in dealing with the likes of Vladimir Putin or Xia Jinping. “Willful ignorance,” or “studied ignorance,” is an increasingly familiar phenomenon. Not just in Washington but among heads of large organizations of all stripes. The inclination to avoid acquiring knowledge about a matter either at hand or looming is not necessarily a sign of stupidity. Here, too, there may be hidden considerations at play. American foreign policymakers may wish to mask the Kabul government’s faltering popular support because doing so means a fundamental rethink of aims- an agonizing reappraisal for which they are unprepared intellectually, politically, and diplomatically. Vietnam is the central reference point for McMaster’s strategic perspective. He wrote his doctoral dissertation at the University of North Carolina on the topic – the work that has given him the reputation of being the best mind in the Army – the embodiment of the “soldier-scholar.” The book’s thesis is that the uniformed military’s leaders failed in their duty by not remonstrating against Lyndon Johnson’s misrepresentations of conditions in Vietnam. The premise is that they had an accurate, unbiased understanding while Johnson was a chronic liar who had his political image foremost in mind. This is a very dubious proposition. The top United States’ commanders in Vietnam were as blind to realities as were the civilians in Washington. Their lying about capabilities (theirs and the Communists), the battlefield picture, and what was going down politically became proverbial. The daily briefing at command headquarters in Saigon was universally called the “5 O’clock Follies” by the press corps.** The commander of U.S. forces, General William Westmoreland, was notorious for his upbeat testimony to Congress and other public statements which bore only the faintest connection to reality. The conventional soldier epitomized, Westmoreland never understood what he was up against. He did not help his reputation by suppressing Intelligence estimates regarding the size of the forces confronting him. Has McMaster observed the lessons that he drew from his study of the military’s Vietnam experience? If so, he would be stressing to the President and his associates the following: there is no way to topple Assad other than to intervene with several hundred thousand American troops; persisting in the attempt to set up a Sunni protectorate under American auspices in the Syrian-Iraqi desert is a fool’s errand with no strategic rationale; continual Turkish sustenance for ISIS (as well as al-Nusra) greatly exacerbates the challenge of suppressing it; permanent bases (or toll roads manned by Blackwater-like thugs) in Syria and/or Iraq will worsen threats to American security while providing little tangible advantage; the choices in Afghanistan are between withdrawing now with mission unaccomplished or withdrawing later with mission unaccomplished at far greater cost; Russia does not pose a military threat to its European neighbors in terms of its security interests, capabilities, intent or deterrence calculations. On all of these matters, McMaster – like Secretary of Defense General James Mattis – has rendered quite the opposite advice (as far as we know) while publicly fostering a fantasy view of them. In so doing, they are perpetuating the set of American policies (in the Greater Middle East) pursued since the “war on terror’s” initiation in 2001. That exercise calls to mind the WW II submarine hunter who innovated by drilling a hole in the bottom of his boat to better track his prey – the main difference being that the U-boat hunter knew how to swim. How to characterize this behavior? It certainly is short-sighted. We can say that the policies have not been fully thought through; that they are misguided in not crisply defining objectives, not setting priorities, and not rigorously linking means to ends. It is negligent rather than outright ‘dumb’.  That is to say, officials had the mental capacity to get these logical connections right; but they were inclined not to use it in choosing the course of least effort and least resistance. Is this ignorance? No. Is it willful ignorance cum sublimation – yes, in part. Is acting in this manner ‘dumb’? Strategically, yes. In careerist, political and organizational terms? – perhaps not. It is simply dishonest and runs the risk of self brain-washing. Is it ‘dumb’ to take that risk? Yes.  At that stage in the flight from rationality, being lauded as “the best brain in the Army” promises no salvation. Quite the opposite.  Your policies – if not you individually – are doomed. This pattern has something to do with uncritical commitment to an inheritance of established national goals which have taken on the aura of self-evident – if not gospel - truth. Those goals may well be unrealistic. Is that itself an indication of obtuseness? No – just bad judgment. However, the efforts to reach those goals deserve the designation of ‘dumb’ when: 1) the resources requisite for success are clearly absent; 2) the odds on achieving success have been skewed so as to obscure how improbable the outcome sought actually is; and/or 3) flawed logic is used in relating means to the stated end. Think of Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iran, Ukraine. Bad judgment itself may stem from adherence to a rigid doctrine or ideology. (Goal: secure U.S. strategic hegemony globally; doctrine:  full spectrum military dominance in every region; priority policy objective: access to an archipelago of bases). The act of adhesion can be seen as signaling ignorance or lack of perception – but not low IQ intelligence. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

03 июня, 00:15

Actually, Mike Pence, Climate Change Has Nothing To Do With A 'Liberal' Agenda

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); Vice President Mike Pence appeared on “Fox & Friends” Friday to tout President Donald Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement combatting climate change, and painted the issue as one of partisan politics.  “For some reason or another, this issue of climate change has emerged as a paramount issue for the left in this country and around the world,” Pence said. “It’s long been a goal of the liberal left in this country to advance a climate change agenda.”  Pence’s remarks entirely ignore the consensus among climate scientists that humans have significantly contributed to global warming. And in framing the issue as one of right versus left, he also brushes aside the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change, including food shortages, floods, fires and irreparable damage to wildlife. He’s also disregarding that some of his fellow Republicans have also urged action on what he describes as the “climate change agenda.”  Pence’s comments, of course, echo a familiar refrain from the right. Many conservatives have attempted to paint climate change as a partisan issue promoted only by the left, or simply punt on the issue by pleading ignorance. But the reality is that it’s not just Democrats who are concerned about global warming. Recent polls also show that many Republican voters — including those who sided with Trump in the 2016 election — believe man-made climate change is real and is something to be concerned about. A HuffPost You/Gov poll earlier this year found that 61 percent of Americans supported staying in the Paris Agreement, including 31 percent of Trump voters surveyed. A Morning Consult/Politico poll conducted in April found that most Americans are concerned about climate change, including 50 percent of Republicans. And a March Gallup poll found that 68 percent of Americans believe humans are causing global warming.  There have also been efforts on the right to make climate change action a priority for the GOP. Nineteen House Republicans signed on to the Republican Climate Resolution calling for congressional action on global warming, and many of those same members have joined a bipartisan caucus focused on climate issues. Bob Inglis, a former GOP congressman from South Carolina, formed RepublicEn, a conservative climate advocacy group. And as Reuters reported, college Republicans at campuses across the U.S. are increasingly in favor of actively combatting global warming, suggesting a generational shift looming for the party. And, contrary to Pence’s comments, there are plenty of moderate and right-leaning politicians who have publicly warned of the dangers of rising global temperatures. Here are just some prominent figures on the right who have acknowledged that climate change is a real and pressing threat to humanity, and are advocating for action:  2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney Affirmation of the #ParisAgreement is not only about the climate: It is also about America remaining the global leader.— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) May 31, 2017 Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Trump’s secretary of state has previously expressed support for the Paris Agreement, and reportedly lobbied Trump to stay in the deal. After Trump’s announcement, he said he hopes the U.S. will reduce greenhouse gas emissions despite leaving the accord. “I don’t think we’re going to change our ongoing efforts to reduce those emissions in the future either, so hopefully, people can keep it in perspective,” he said.  Energy Secretary Rick Perry Perry, the former Republican governor of Texas and GOP presidential candidate, also supported staying in the agreement. He advocated for “renegotiating” the U.S.’s commitment rather than fully withdrawing.   Perry, however, expressed support for Trump’s decision following the announcement. Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) “One man cannot destroy our progress, one man can’t stop our clean energy revolution, one man can’t go back in time. Only I can do that,” Schwarzenegger said in a video on ATTN following Trump’s announcement, referencing his role in the “Terminator” films. “Like all the great movements in human history, our clean future starts with a grassroots movement in our communities, our cities and our state.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) Climate change requires a global approach. I'm disappointed in the President's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement #mepolitics— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) June 1, 2017 Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) Something's not right when @POTUS is putting our country on a list with bad hombres Bashar al Assad of Syria & Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua— Carlos Curbelo (@carloslcurbelo) June 1, 2017 Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) #SoFL is directly impacted by #sealevelrise + coastal flooding. We need long term strategy against #climatechange #ParisAccord pic.twitter.com/LOJ1LzZFE2— Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (@RosLehtinen) June 1, 2017 Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.) “The Paris Agreement isn’t perfect. But by abandoning it, America is relinquishing that seat at the table. It calls into question our commitment to protecting and preserving the environment. And it forfeits our ability to drive countries like China and India to reduce their carbon footprint and compete on a level playing field. Ultimately, this disappointing decision diminishes America’s leadership role on the world stage.” Former GOP congressman and founder of RepublicEn Bob Inglis Donald Trump is becoming the worldwide face of climate hoaxter-ism. Good news: when he leaves, he will take climate hoaxter-ism with him. https://t.co/l9iudhqHIb— Bob Inglis (@bobinglis) June 1, 2017 Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.)  “United States innovation and business leadership have been key drivers to lowering our carbon emissions over the last 20 years, and we should continue to have an influential seat at the table as the rest of the world addresses these issues. Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement is misguided, and harms the ongoing effort to fight climate change while also isolating us from our allies.” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) Murkowski addressed Trump’s decision on Thursday, KTOO reported: “My hope is that with the president’s decision to go this route it does not mean that we fall back as a nation on our efforts to address and mitigate on the impact that we see from a warming climate,” she said. “Because we see it here in this state and it is real and I think we’ve got an obligation to help address it.”  Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) Alexander is one of few Senate Republicans who has acknowledged the existence of man-made climate change. According to the Times Free Press, Alexander said in a statement Friday that while he doesn’t think withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is catastrophic for climate progress, he believes the “most important thing the United States can do to solve our energy and climate challenge is to double funding for basic energy research.” Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R)  “The President’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement is disappointing and concerning, particularly given the widespread and non-partisan support from business and political leaders for remaining in the Agreement.”  Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) Although Graham expressed support for the decision to leave the Paris accord, he has previously acknowledged the gravity of climate change. “I have come to conclude that greenhouse gases and carbon pollution is not a good thing,” Graham said in 2010. “Whatever political push back I get, I’m willing to accept because I know what I’m trying to do makes sense to me. … I am convinced that reason, logic and good business sense, and good environmental policy, will trump the status quo.” ExxonMobil chief Darren Woods Woods, who has donated to GOP campaigns, wrote a personal letter to Trump last month urging him to stay in the agreement. As the Financial Times reports: Mr Woods argues that staying in the accord will mean the US keeps “a seat at the negotiating table to ensure a level playing field” for all energy sources, and can argue for “the most cost-effective greenhouse gas reduction options” and support for innovation Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris Liveris, whose company gave $1 million to Trump’s inauguration, was the “driving force behind a letter from 30 major company executives backing the deal,” Bloomberg reported Wednesday. Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon The frequent GOP donor also urged Trump to uphold the U.S.’s commitment to the international pact.  Defense Secretary James Mattis Earlier this year, Mattis cited climate change as a national security threat. “Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” he said in written testimony to the Senate Armed Forces Committee. “It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning.”  Former Defense Secretary and GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel Hagel has also said global warming should be considered a security threat. “Preparing for climate change is about risk — even if we do not understand every aspect of the scientific predictions, we know that the consequences of not acting may be significant,” he wrote in a 2015 Time op-ed. Former Secretary of State George Schultz  Schultz, who served as the head of the State Department under Ronald Reagan, warned of the dangers of climate change in 2013. “If you wait until you’re boiling, you may have missed your moment. You have to look and see what’s happening, and act on the basis of that,” he said. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

27 марта, 02:56

Trump Must Stand His Ground with NATO

Ted Galen Carpenter Security, Europe Trump should make good on his word and cut off NATO allies that refuse to pull their weight. President Trump’s tense meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed that he is serious about insisting on greater financial burden sharing within NATO. Not only did the president criticize Germany’s continuing failure to meet the commitment that alliance members made following the 2006 summit meeting to spend a minimum of 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense, but he added another barb. Trump stated that Merkel’s government owed NATO (and, by implication, the United States as NATO’s leader) “vast sums” of money for the prior years that Germany failed to meet the 2 percent target. German officials flatly rejected both his demand and his reasoning, even arguing that difference in the relative expenditures of alliance members should not really matter to the collective defense effort. This was hardly the first time that a U.S. administration has pressed for greater burden sharing from NATO’s European members. As I’ve noted previously, Dwight Eisenhower’s secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, threatened to conduct an “agonizing reappraisal” of Washington’s commitment to Europe’s security if allies did not do more. More recently, Barack Obama’s secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, warned that European nations must increase their defense efforts, or domestic support for America’s NATO obligations would be in jeopardy. U.S. officials undercut their own warnings, however, by simultaneously stressing the importance of Europe’s security to America’s own. When those officials habitually asserted that the continent’s well-being was not merely an important U.S. interest, but a vital one, European leaders understandably dismissed the accompanying warnings as lacking credibility. They either ignored the demand for greater burden sharing or (as in 2006) made paper promises for a greater effort, which they then promptly violated. Alan Tonelson, a former associate editor with Foreign Policy, aptly identified the inherent futility of Washington’s burden-sharing approach. Read full article

11 марта, 08:00

Геи-насильники в армии США

Около трех с половиной тысяч сексуальных нападений было официально зафиксировано в рядах армии Соединённых Штатов Америки в 2012 году. При этом анонимные исследования показали, что не менее 26 тысяч эпизодов так и остались не обнародованными. Об этом сообщил журналистам глава Пентагона Чак Хейгел. Подробнее о явлении гомосексуализма в статье: Статистика о гомосексуализме Впервые власти США […]

14 февраля, 06:46

Bowe Bergdahl Can't Get A Fair Trial After Trump 'Traitor' Attacks, Lawyers Say

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); Lawyers defending Bowe Bergdahl, the Army sergeant charged with desertion, argued in court Monday that the charges should be dismissed because Donald Trump’s repeated campaign attacks on him as a “traitor” make a fair trial impossible.  Military Judge Jeffery Nance conceded during a pretrial hearing at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, that Trump’s comments were “disturbing,” The Associated Press reported. He didn’t immediately rule on the motion to dismiss the charges. Bergdahl walked away from his base in Afghanistan in 2009 and was captured by the Taliban and held for five years. In a controversial barter, the Obama administration traded five Taliban prisoners to secure his freedom. Bergdahl’s complicated story, including torture during his captivity, were the focus of a “Serial” podcast last year. He has said he walked away from his post to call attention to problems at the base.  The motion to dismiss the charges, filed by Bergdahl’s defense team last month, lists dozens of times Trump spoke publicly about the Army sergeant. In a campaign appearance in Iowa in 2015, Trump said Bergdahl should be “thrown out of an airplane without a parachute,” according to the motion. The motion argues that the charges should be dismissed because “President Trump’s statements are prejudicial to Sergeant Bergdahl’s right to a fair trial and inimical to public confidence in the administration of military justice.” Lawyers played a video of Trump at campaign rallies in court on Monday. Trump referred to Bergdahl as a “traitor” or a similar insult at least 45 times at rallies or in media interviews, according to defense lawyers. The slurs included calling Bergdahl a “no-good, dirty, rotten traitor,” a “horrible, terrible, dirty, rotten traitor,” a “dirty rotten deserter,” a “whack job,” a “son of a bitch” and a “bum.” He said Bergdahl “should be shot,” and in the “good old days” would have been executed. Trump told campaign crowds that “at least six soldiers” were killed trying to rescue Bergdahl. In fact, former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel testified before Congress in 2014 that there was no evidence linking any U.S. combat deaths to the search for Bergdahl. The sergeant was heavily criticized at the time for placing colleagues searching for him at risk.  Critics attacked Obama’s prisoner exchange as a compromise with terrorists. Hagel said that none of the detainees released by the U.S. had been linked to any terror attack. Bergdahl appealed in vain for a pardon from then-President Barack Obama in December.  The case isn’t the first time Trump’s words have complicated a court action. In upholding an order blocking Trump’s travel ban last week, a U.S. Court of Appeals panel said Trump’s campaign promise of a “Muslim ban” may be “considered in evaluating ... Equal Protection Clause claims,” even though the president didn’t use the phrase in his executive order. Trump’s criticism of military personnel is a sensitive subject, because he received four student deferments during the Vietnam War and never served in the military. He has said he suffered through his own “personal Vietnam” dodging sexually transmitted diseases during war-era frolicking.  During his campaign, Trump attacked war hero Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Trump claimed McCain “wasn’t a war hero” because he was captured. “I like people that weren’t captured,” Trump added. type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related Coverage + articlesList=566b22d2e4b080eddf581bf2,567327d5e4b0b958f655ee08,58433d32e4b09e21702f0796,56a2466fe4b0d8cc1099b6da,566f2eace4b011b83a6c29cd -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

24 января, 01:30

Former State Department spokesperson Marie Harf joins Fox News

Harf was most recently a senior communications officer to former Secretary of State John Kerry.

20 января, 02:52

'We Should Have Pushed Harder': Obama's Gitmo Czars Reflect On His Failure To Close The Prison

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); On his first day in office, President Barack Obama signed an executive order directing that the Guantanamo Bay prison facility “be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order.” The prison camp on the island of Cuba had come to symbolize the abuses of the war on terror. Shutting it down was supposed to be easy. The Bush administration had already begun the process. But eight years of partisan battles, bureaucratic infighting and a last-ditch effort later, the facility that Obama once labeled a “blot on our national honor” remains open. No one is more acutely aware of that failure than the men Obama chose to lead his effort to shutter the camp. They can point to some successes in their mission. About 780 men and boys were incarcerated at Gitmo at one point or another. Exactly 242 remained when Obama took office and today just 41 men are imprisoned there. Yet it’s likely those men will stay at Gitmo for the rest of their lives. Looking back, the “Guantanamo czars” say the administration made key mistakes by badly misjudging the mood of Congress, agreeing to use military tribunals and not moving fast enough to close the prison from the very start. To members of the Obama administration, the Guantanamo prison camp, which President George W. Bush had opened in 2002 to house the so-called masterminds behind the 9/11 attacks, always felt like an inherited burden. “In the Bush administration, there were a lot of decisions made in haste and in the emotion of the moment that turned out not to be wise, and Guantanamo was one of them,” said Daniel Fried, a career diplomat who served as a special assistant to Bush and became Obama’s first special envoy for Guantanamo closure. By the end of the Bush administration, Fried said, hundreds of detainees had already being transferred elsewhere, and White House officials wanted to close the prison. Fried recalled a Bush official muttering that if all of the detainees were released, the damage they might do would be less than damage the existence of Guantanamo itself did to the U.S. effort to fight terrorists around the world. When Obama took office in 2009, his goal was to send as many of the 242 remaining prisoners back to their own countries as possible. For those who couldn’t go home due to prolonged instability or fear of religious persecution, he would find other nations willing to take them. Those not yet cleared for release would be held in federal prisons. A smaller group accused of crimes against the U.S. would be housed in federal prisons and tried in federal courts. Closing the camp had drawn support from prominent Republican voices on foreign policy, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who had just lost the presidential race to Obama. “It did not seem to be highly contentious and I think it would be fair to say that in the early days of the transition we thought this would take place in the ordinary course of business,” said Greg Craig, Obama’s first White House counsel, who drafted the executive order to close Guantanamo. Still, nobody in the administration was immediately assigned the job. It was a mistake. With no one officially focused on Gitmo closure, no one was watching for any red flags in Congress. One day, Craig received a warning. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called and told him that Congress was tacking language onto a funding bill that would ban the administration from moving any Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. Craig felt unsure of what to do. The legislative fight wasn’t in his job description. “I said, ‘That’s something that the congressional liaison people are handling. I’ll make sure that they are on top of it,’” he recalled. Now he sees that moment as a turning point. “The fact that suddenly the Republicans were seeking to put conditions on the closure of Guantanamo, and the fact that in the administration we weren’t fighting back or weren’t reacting to defend our freedom to close it, was a warning shot, in retrospect,” Craig said. The more intense the controversy grew, the less willing we were to engage in that fight. Greg Craig, President Obama's first White House counsel As that bill was being readied, the Obama White House was working on its first detainee transfers — the last 17 Uighurs left at Gitmo. The Uighurs were Chinese Muslims who had traveled to Afghanistan in the 1990s to flee persecution at home. They would face further persecution if sent back to China. But keeping them at Guantanamo was also wrong: They had been handed over to the U.S. after the Afghanistan invasion in exchange for bounty, and they had no connection to 9/11 or the Iraq War. “If we had problems with [releasing] the Uighurs,” Craig said, “we were going to have problems with everybody.” Obama administration officials decided to resettle the Uighurs in the United States. The first few would be released in Northern Virginia, where there was an existing Uighur community. But in early May 2009, after the media reported the administration’s plans, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) gave an impassioned speech on the House floor saying he didn’t want “terrorists” in his district. Congress soon passed a measure effectively preventing U.S. resettlement of the detainees — the same measure Feinstein had warned Craig about. Half a year after taking office, the Obama administration had lost the first Gitmo battle. The administration backed off. “I would say that the more intense the controversy grew, the less willing we were to engage in that fight,” Craig said. Craig’s own tenure as White House counsel lasted less than a year. He left the administration in January 2010. News accounts claimed he was pushed out in part because he couldn’t get the ball rolling fast enough on Guantanamo. “We were losing 700,000 jobs a month, we were trying to put together a bipartisan coalition to support a national health insurance program, and there were only so many fights that could be conducted at the same time,” said Craig, now of counsel at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. But Obama still hoped to close Guantanamo, Craig said. “On the day I left, I think he still believed that he could close it.” As the Uighurs’ fate was being debated, the White House finally picked someone to focus full-time on shutting down the prison camp: Fried. The newly appointed Guantanamo czar had worked in the Foreign Service since the late 1970s, under Democratic and Republican presidents. He sees the political process as often unnecessarily partisan and warns people to “watch out for decisions taken in the heat of the moment,” paraphrasing one of his idols, Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke. When then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked Fried to take on the Guantanamo job, she “was wry about it,” he recalled. “She said, ‘Hey, you were in the Bush administration for eight years right? Then you can help clean up one of their messes.’” But Fried soon found himself constrained by Republican lawmakers determined to stop the administration from moving Guantanamo detainees anywhere for any purpose. “The vast majority of Congress was not willing to do anything, because if just one person went back to the battlefield, then they would be blamed,” explained former Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who helped lead the fight in Congress to close the prison. “It was easier to let people be indefinitely confined in some cases and tortured so that no one in power would risk being accused of being soft on terrorists.” The administration had expected that transferring the detainees to third countries would be its most difficult task, Fried said. “We thought that the issues of trials would be far easier,” he said, “That turned out to be just wrong.” By the time Fried was considering which detainees to try in federal court, Republican lawmakers were moving full speed to stop that, too. The congressional measure that prevented the Uighurs from being resettled in the U.S. also restricted the use of federal funds to transfer prisoners from Gitmo to U.S. soil for the purposes of prosecution. To Fried, it was clearly politics at play. He had seen how earnestly Bush staffers sought to close the prison with no pushback from the Republicans — and no support from Democrats. Now he was witnessing a 180-degree reversal. “It was very clear to me that the path [to closure] was getting narrower and narrower,” said Fried. “I think the Republicans and the Democrats both were inconsistent. Why didn’t the Democrats help both [administrations]? They didn’t want to help Bush at all. Why didn’t the Republicans take seriously the national security problems that Gitmo posed? Well, because they wanted to go after Obama.” Blocked from using federal courts to try Gitmo detainees, Fried and the White House were left with one option for legal proceedings: military tribunals. Guantanamo’s military tribunal system had been established under a Bush executive order, struck down by the Supreme Court in 2006 and quickly re-established by Congress the same year. Several detainees had been charged during Bush’s tenure, but less than a handful had been judged and sentenced. The system had a history of delays. Obama decided to meet Republicans in the middle. By reforming and using the tribunals, Craig said, the president aimed to show that he could pursue bipartisan solutions on national security issues.   Today, that effort to play ball with Republicans at a time when many of them were actively attempting to tighten the reins on the executive branch seems idealistic at best. To several of the former Gitmo czars, Obama’s decision to go ahead with the military tribunals was the kiss of death for Guantanamo closure. “As long as the military tribunal process was going, it would be very hard to close Guantanamo because that was the location of the military tribunal,” Craig said. Fried had harsher words. “This mythology arose that federal courts are weak because they give rights to terrorists,” he said. “It’s a very snappy bumper sticker. So the Obama administration turned to military tribunals. It turned out to be just wrong, demonstrably false. Federal courts are not weak, they are strong, they get convictions. ... But we caved to the pressure. I’m sorry we did it. We should have pushed harder.” Only 30 detainees would be formally charged under the military tribunals during the Obama presidency, and a mere eight would make it through trial to conviction. Part of the problem was that the tribunals were “untested institutions,” Fried said, without the well-established rules and procedures of the federal court system. “Because they lacked a kind of public legitimacy,” Fried said, “the military bent over backwards to try to be fair, which meant more opportunities for delay.” Craig called the system a complete “failure.” “The president of the United States promised swift and certain justice when he became president in January 2009,”  he said, “and we’ve had anything but.” Seeing his fellow lawmakers’ disdain for the prisoners, Moran, the Virginia congressman pushing to close the prison, began to lose hope that the Guantanamo situation could be fixed at all. “I thought it was a state of deliberate people not wanting to know the facts,” he said. “For 200 years, our judicial system has stood the test of time, and here we violated it. … Here you create this suspension of justice, and you let them wallow in despair and in complete violation of the historical norms.” Fried labored for over three years as the Gitmo czar, transferring 70 detainees in total. (The administration also moved out a handful before he came on board.) His efforts kept hitting roadblocks, including when Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives in 2010. But it was the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011, which required that any country willing to accept a Guantanamo detainee must first guarantee that the released man would never again engage in terrorism activity, that ultimately “exhausted all of the political capital,” Fried said. In January 2013, at the beginning of Obama’s second term, Fried was reassigned. For several months, the president chose not to appoint a new special envoy for Guantanamo closure. We caved to the pressure. I’m sorry we did it. We should have pushed harder. Former Guantanamo czar Daniel Fried, speaking of the decision not to try detainees in federal court But Obama hadn’t given up yet. In May of that year, speaking at the National Defense University, he recommitted his administration to closing Guantanamo, then under renewed public scrutiny because multiple detainees had gone on hunger strikes. The timing was important on another level as well: The president was thinking about his legacy. “I sort of suspected that the White House might give it another try,” Fried said. “There is nothing like legacy time to get people to focus.” In July 2013, Obama appointed lawyer Clifford Sloan as the new special envoy on the advice of Secretary of State John Kerry, who knew him personally. Sloan was a partner at the Skadden law firm (Craig knew and approved of him, too) who had once served in President Bill Clinton’s White House. At the time Sloan took the helm, there were 166 prisoners left at Guantanamo and more than half of them had been approved for transfer. “They were just languishing there, and I thought it was unconscionable,” Sloan said. Still, he knew that closing the prison would be an uphill battle. “I had people tell me, ‘You’re not going to be able to move a single person.’” But Sloan hoped that the passage of time might have eased some fears in Congress. He even came close to persuading the Senate to pass a bill allowing the administration to transfer some detainees to the U.S. That language was ultimately stripped from the legislation. “It was frustrating that you couldn’t get this limited authority and move them to the U.S.,” Sloan said. “It’s totally at odds with anything we’ve ever done with the law of war detention.” Sloan did manage to get language passed that made it easier to send detainees to third countries that were willing to monitor them. He also set up a periodic review board to speed up the process of determining which prisoners could be released. And during his 16 months on the job, he transferred 39 prisoners to other countries and set the path for release of 11 more. Sloan also faced some unexpected hurdles within the Obama administration. “There was a period where there were a number of transfers that were completely ready to go and there was a period of unnecessary delay,” he said. According to media reports at the time, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was dragging his feet on releasing the detainees because he was concerned they would kill Americans once released. Although Hagel announced his resignation in November 2014, Sloan, frustrated by continued delays, departed a month later. Lee Wolosky led the Obama administration’s final push to empty the Gitmo detention facility. Another lawyer, he had worked at the National Security Council under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Since July 2015, Wolosky has moved 75 detainees from Guantanamo, getting the count down to 41. A final four were just transferred on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, Foreign Policy reported Thursday. Obama pushed to close the prison up until the bitter end. On Thursday, in his final hours as president, he sent one last letter to Congress urging lawmakers to “close a facility that never should have been opened in the first place” and warning them that “history will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism and those of us who fail to bring it to a responsible end.” The remaining prisoners will become President Trump’s problem, as will the decision whether to continue the effort to empty Guantanamo. So far, Trump has indicated he wants to keep the camp open and even increase the number of prisoners — to “load it up with some bad dudes,” he said, potentially by bringing in people with ties to the Islamic State. He has also said he would be “fine” with sending Americans accused of terrorism to Guantanamo. The men Obama asked to shutter Guantanamo have mixed feelings about their legacies. “Now what people will say is, ‘Aw, they failed.’ But you know, as failures go, that’s pretty damn good,” said Fried. “Lee Wolosky, I think in the end he moved more than I did. The administration deserves credit.” Even if Obama’s team didn’t ultimately close Guantanamo, Fried said, “that last year-and-a-half effort is impressive.” Sloan is also pleased with the final number, or at least the work that went into releasing so many detainees. “It’s great progress,” he said, “and great progress is a very good thing.” But Moran, the congressman who wanted to close the camp, refuses to express any glass-half-full optimism. “It will be recorded in history as a stain on our nation’s soul, much in the way that other things we have done define us in ways we don’t want to accept, like slavery and the genocide of Native Americans,” he said. “I think they are just going to rot there for the rest of their lives.” Sign up for the HuffPost Must Reads newsletter. Each Sunday, we will bring you the best original reporting, longform writing and breaking news from The Huffington Post and around the web, plus behind-the-scenes looks at how it’s all made. Click here to sign up! -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

18 января, 04:53

Ukraine: The Key to Any American Russia Policy

Sagatom Saha Security, Eurasia The United States cannot pursue half measures that will intensify hostilities, unless it is fully prepared to counter all of the Kremlin’s escalations. Despite flirtations with Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump will be pressed to confront Russia’s emboldened aggression when he takes office. Amid concerns of election hacking, how Trump tackles this challenge will define his foreign policy and commitment to the American people for many. But combating Russian antagonism requires something more than military bluster. Raising stakes with armed forces may worsen circumstances. If the next administration intends to challenge Moscow and preserve global stability and American clout, it should instead craft its approach around supporting anticorruption and economic reform in Ukraine. For the past eight years, the Kremlin has vexed the Obama administration by opposing the United States wherever and whenever possible. Aside from uncertain sanctions, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, covert invasion of eastern Ukraine and military support of the Assad regime have been largely unhindered. Even if they last, sanctions will do little to persuade Russia to pursue peace anytime soon. Policymakers have criticized President Obama for his ostensibly lax stance. Obama’s own former defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, carped at the president’s slow response to the invasion of Crimea, and Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have urged the president to provide lethal military aid to Ukraine. Without resistance, Putin will undoubtedly continue to antagonize America’s eastern European partners and exacerbate the Syrian Civil War. However, stepping up military action will quell conflict. Read full article

12 января, 16:12

Mattis says civilian control of military will prevail

Retired Gen. James Mattis on Thursday will seek to reassure Congress that if he becomes the first retired general in nearly 70 years to serve as secretary of Defense, he will honor the tradition of civilian control of the military."I recognize my potential civilian role differs in essence and in substance from my former role in uniform," Mattis will tell the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing, according to his prepared opening statement. "Civilian control of the military is a fundamental tenet of the American military tradition."The armed forces' subordination to political leadership will remain unchanged under his watch, Mattis will pledge."Both the commander in chief and the secretary of Defense must impose an objective strategic calculus in the national security decision-making process and effectively direct its activities," he will tell senators. "Civilian leaders bear these responsibilities because the esprit de corps of our military, its can-do spirit, and its obedience to civilian leadership reduces the inclination and power of the military to criticize or oppose the policy it is ultimately ordered to implement."Current law prohibits retired military officers from serving as the civilian head of the Pentagon for at least seven years after they leave service. Since Mattis retired from the Marine Corps in 2013, he will require a special waiver passed by both houses of Congress.The only exception made since the establishment of the Department of Defense in 1947 was for retired Gen. George Marshall in 1950. Mattis' nomination and the separate waiver are expected to garner bipartisan support in the Senate and House.But President-elect Donald Trump's choice of Mattis - one of several retired generals named to his Cabinet - has not been without controversy. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democratic member of SASC, has said she will not back the waiver out of concern for setting a precedent that could erode civilian control of the military. And on Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee canceled an appearance by Mattis - scheduled to occur after his Senate confirmation hearing - on the topic of civilian control of the military after the Trump transition team told Mattis not to appear.The abrupt decision angered Republicans and Democrats on the panel, though it is not clear that it will affect the ultimate outcome when the full House votes on the waiver. Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, while lauding Mattis' qualifications, has expressed concern that with all of his military experience Mattis might eclipse the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a body that’s supposed to provide independent military advice to the president. Mattis will be introduced to the Senate panel Thursday by William Cohen, who served as secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration and as a Republican senator from Maine.Mattis will testify that his top goals will be to enhance the preparedness of the armed forces, work more closely with allies, and make the unwieldy Pentagon bureaucracy more efficient. "If you confirm me, my watchwords will be solvency and security in providing for the protection of our people and the survival of our freedoms," according to his statement. "My priorities as secretary of Defense will be to strengthen military readiness, strengthen our alliances in league with our diplomatic partners, and bring business reforms to the Department of Defense by instilling budget discipline and holding our leaders accountable."He will also kick off the hearing with a personal note - about his immigrant mother. "I have worked at the Pentagon twice in my career. But few people may know I am not the first person in my family to do so. When, in the wartime spring of 1942, my mother was 20 years old and working in military intelligence, she was part of the first wave of government employees to move into the still-unfinished Pentagon. She had come to America as an infant and lives today on the banks of the Columbia in the Pacific Northwest. Little could she imagine in her youth that more than 90 years after she immigrated to this country, and 75 years after she first walked through the doors of the War Department, one of her sons would be sitting here today before the Senate."

10 января, 05:10

Republicans Used To Care About Cabinet Disclosures. Then Trump Won.

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); WASHINGTON ― Senate Republicans used to care about Cabinet nominees making full disclosures ― at least they cared when President Barack Obama was the one doing the nominating. So concerned with the potential for foreign conflicts of interest that, in 2013, Republicans demanded unprecedented disclosures from a member of their own party: former Sen. Chuck Hagel, Obama’s nominee for secretary of Defense. “This Committee, and the American people, have a right to know if a nominee for Secretary of Defense has received compensation, directly or indirectly, from foreign sources,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), then one month into the job, wrote in a letter to Hagel that was signed by 25 additional Republican senators. “Until the Committee receives full and complete answers, it cannot in good faith determine whether you should be confirmed as Secretary of Defense.” But now that President-elect Donald Trump looks apt to retain a financial stake in his multibillion-dollar business enterprise ― with deals connected to foreign businesses and a hotel that is being rented out by foreign governments ― the GOP no longer seems to care. Republicans in both the House and Senate have refused to hold hearings on Trump’s conflicts of interest, and there is no apparent concern that some of the nine Cabinet nominees scheduled to testify this week have so far failed to properly disclose their financial holdings or reach the customary agreement with the Office of Government Ethics. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who signed Cruz’s letter and defended Cruz’s attacks against Hagel during a committee vote on the nomination, made no attempt to hide the hypocrisy. When The Huffington Post asked Inhofe on Monday night if this same standard of disclosing foreign payments should apply to Trump’s Cabinet nominees, he said it shouldn’t. “So it’s different now because it’s Trump?” we asked. “That’s just right,” Inhofe said. “That’s right?” we asked to clarify. “Yeah,” he said. A spokeswoman later tried to walk back Inhofe’s answers. “Of course we don’t believe there’s a double standard when it comes to President-elect Trump’s Cabinet picks,” said Daisy Letendre, Inhofe’s communications director. Inhofe, it seems, had made the great political mistake of telling the truth, but you can listen to the exchange ― complete with guffaws from surrounding reporters surprised by his honesty ― here. function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_2'),onPlayerReadyVidible); Other Republicans have been more careful than Inhofe to admit the hypocrisy. To highlight the duplicity, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) took a 2009 letter laying out eight standards for nominees that then-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had sent to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), changed the names with a sharpie, and then sent it back to McConnell via Twitter. Our requests are eminently reasonable, shared by leaders of both parties. I'll return this letter to @SenateMajLdr with the same requests. pic.twitter.com/IMT7ZtJFjV— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 9, 2017 Democrats have asked for a delay in the hearings until the nominees who had not been fully vetted by OGE as of late Monday ― Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos and Wilbur Ross ― complete the vetting process, but that request is being ignored. McConnell has labeled those calls to postpone confirmation hearings for Trump’s nominees “little procedural complaints.” McConnell also signed Cruz’s letter demanding the unprecedented disclosures from Hagel. Part of the GOP double standard seems to be a belief that OGE might intentionally be dragging its feet. “There’s a concern, frankly, that the government ethics office is not working with us expeditiously,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), who also signed Cruz’s letter, said Monday. “There’s a concern there that I’ve heard expressed.” Typically, administrations work with OGE before nominees are put forward to work out potential conflicts of interest, but the Trump administration did not do that, and nominees were late to get their paperwork into the ethics office. Now Republicans are rushing to confirm Trump’s nominees without even the standard level of vetting, let alone the additional standards they applied to Hagel. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who also had signed Cruz’s letter, said Senate Republicans have asked for a number of the same disclosures that they demanded of Obama nominees. “So we’ll see what answer we get on it in the next couple days,” Rubio said. But if they don’t get those documents, would Rubio vote to block any of the nominees? “Let’s see the answers first,” he said. Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), who signed Cruz’s letter in 2013, said the same standards should apply now as they did then. Presented with the fact that Republicans were holding hearings this week on nominees who have not received a letter of approval from OGE, McCain said the Senate should have all the information necessary. “But I don’t know about the specific nominees,” he said. “I’m taking care of the ones that go through the defense ― the Armed Services Committee.” While McCain turns a blind eye to the nominees not under his jurisdiction, he did, to his credit, come to Hagel’s defense against Cruz’s attack in 2013. When other Republicans were threatening a walkout over the Hagel vote, McCain issued a news release saying Hagel had “fulfilled the rigorous requirements” and that a vote was appropriate. He also called Cruz’s attack at the time “out of bounds.” Cabinet nominees are already required by committees to disclose whether they have “received any compensation from, or been involved in any financial or business transactions with, a foreign government or an entity controlled by a foreign government” over the past 10 years. Hagel stated that he could not produce such disclosures, as he was no longer employed at any of the firms targeted for disclosure by Senate Republicans. Cruz took that answer to imply that Hagel must have received ethically disqualifying payments. “We do not know, for example, if he received compensation for giving paid speeches at extreme or radical groups,” Cruz said. “It is at a minimum relevant to know if that $200,000 that he deposited in his bank account came directly from Saudi Arabia, came directly from North Korea.’’ It was an attack that then-Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said was reminiscent of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunt against supposed communists in the government in the 1950s, and it brought Cruz a quick reputation as someone not interested in making nice with the collegial Senate. At least, that was then. Asked Monday if the standard he set for Hagel should apply to Trump nominees, Cruz ignored the question and told us to contact his office. Sign up for the HuffPost Must Reads newsletter. Each Sunday, we will bring you the best original reporting, longform writing and breaking news from The Huffington Post and around the web, plus behind-the-scenes looks at how it’s all made. Click here to sign up! -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

16 декабря 2016, 13:06

Trump's DHS pick could be a 'force for moderation'

Retired Gen. John Kelly is not entirely on-message with the president-elect's rhetoric on Mexican immigrants and Muslim terrorists.

15 декабря 2016, 23:02

Ex-Defense Secretary Hagel offers Trump advice on Syria

Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel suggested Thursday that Donald Trump should consider putting together an Iraq Study Group-style commission to advise him on how to handle the situation in Syria and the broader tumult in the Middle East.Hagel, speaking with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, said the U.S. needs to establish how it “can play some kind of a role here in trying to stop the suffering and the slaughter” in Syria and Aleppo, the city at the center of the fighting and the ongoing humanitarian crisis. But, describing the problem as regional, Hagel said the U.S. can also play a broader role in facilitating a solution to create more stability that he said ultimately “has to come from the Middle East, the leaders there.” Specifically, Hagel, who served as defense secretary under President Barack Obama, said Trump should “seriously consider” putting together an advisory group on the issue, referencing the bipartisan panel led by James Baker and Lee Hamilton that made policy recommendations to George W. Bush on Iraq in 2006.“Now, in the meantime, you still have to deal with the day to day, minute to minute,” said Hagel, a Republican who is also a former senator. “But I think you've got to come at this from a larger context and structure on, What is the future? And I don't think you can continue to play it, just a game, Iraq here, ISIS here, Syria here. It's bigger than that.”

14 декабря 2016, 22:49

Россия как угроза. США прогнозируют новый виток конфликта РФ с НАТО

Американский Совет по международным отношениям считает, что в 2017 году противоречия России со странами НАТО будут нарастать.

14 декабря 2016, 01:17

Hagel worries Mattis might eclipse Joint Chiefs

The former defense secretary warns Mattis could "undermine the role of the Joint Chiefs of Staff."

09 декабря 2016, 02:37

What Will Be The Future of The Democratic Party?

Photo by Rhododendrites, Wikimedia The 2016 election may be the most confounding political event in living memory. And the need to understand it is urgent. That a candidate so obviously lacking in virtue, principal, and understanding of the world beyond his own narrow ambitions, should break out from the large field of Republican contenders and win the nomination speaks volumes about the failure of the Republican establishment to offer a credible vision for America's future. That so many Americans would choose an outcome that is so obviously to their detriment calls for an explanation. And on the other hand, that the tone deaf Democratic Party establishment considered Hillary Clinton entitled to their loyalty may at first be understandable. But ignoring the unparalleled enthusiasm engendered by Bernie Sanders, then putting every possible obstacle in his way, and actually plotting to sabotage his campaign, revealed a very undemocratic mentality at the core of the party establishment. And how should we evaluate the American people? Are we smart enough to recognize that we are losing our social solidarity and confronted with very serious contradictions in our society, but too dumb to recognize where positive change may lie? Are we incapable of recognizing the people and policies that could change what really needs to change? Now that the choice has been made, we will see the wisdom of the electorate (or the lack of it). Will Donald Trump, for instance, prove to have a coherent set of values and an adequate understanding of the world, or will he fall under the influence of corporate lobbyists, or figures with an even more authoritarian bent than himself? What happens if the Trump train shows itself to have no positive destination, or worse yet, goes off the rails? Donald Trump may be a vulgar, narcissistic, and immature human being, but the extreme degree to which the major media focused on and even exaggerated his faults will only accrue to their discredit. From the beginning they gave him more time than he deserved; we were treated to a moral train wreck in slow motion. I remember the prescient words of my own personal trainer, who admits to knowing nothing about politics, saying that since no one trusts the media, a lot of people were going to automatically think there must be something good about Donald Trump. Actually, Trump's critique of NAFTA and the TPP are anti-globalist policies that most progressives would agree with. His call for the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall act is, on the face of it, more progressive than Hillary's positions on financial reform. And finally, his much maligned lack of antagonism toward Russia may be a more sensible and humane policy than the demonization of Russia, a very alarming and unjustified belligerence that only neo-cons could love. Hillary added her shrill voice to the chorus of militarists who want nothing less than full-spectrum dominance by the American Empire. In this regard, Donald Trump was almost a model of modesty and fair play. The Democratic Party misjudged not only the so-called "basket of deplorables," but the American people as a whole. So self-satisfied in their granting complete entitlement to Hillary Clinton, ignoring the lukewarm reception given to her by the public, ignoring the many reasons for which she has lost the trust of many people, ignoring, too, the tens of thousands of people who right up to the day before the election were willing to stand in line for hours on cold nights to hear Donald Trump. Perhaps, the bottom line for many Americans was that Donald Trump represented change (at any cost) and Hillary represented more of the same. And why is it that no one in journalism or the media ever brought up Hillary's complicity in some of the greatest tragedies of our time. The fact that the greatest refugee problem since at least the Second World War was entirely generated by poorly conceived interventions in the Middle East by American power. Much of it began with the Afghan and Iraq wars, which President Bush initiated, and Hillary supported for a long time. But even more significantly, she was the primary cheerleader for the attack on Libya, which led to the destruction of civil society there and opened the floodgates of African emigration from the coast of Libya which had until that time been effectively policed by Qaddafi. Hillary as Secretary of State also lent American support for Islamic extremists in Syria, which has been the cause of millions more refugees. Furthermore, Hillary has stood with the shameful record of the Obama administration toward whistleblowers. Courageous people like Manning, Snowden, Kiriakou, and Assange who risked so much, have paid such a high price for bringing to light facts which should never have been secret. Condemned, imprisoned, confined, or exiled, this is how the Democratic (and Republican) establishment treats truth-tellers, while the policy-makers who approved illegal surveillance, torture, war crimes, backing Islamic terrorists in Syria, and covert operations yet to be revealed wear suits of respectability. But to return to the aftermath of the election -- two days before the election Congressman Alan Grayson initiated a poll. "If the Presidential candidates were Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump, for whom would you vote?" The results were: Sanders 56%, Trump 44%. Grayson reported: "That would have been the largest presidential victory since 1984 (Reagan vs. Mondale), and the largest Democratic victory since 1964 (Johnson vs. Goldwater). Bernie Sanders would have won more than 400 electoral votes. He would have swept every Atlantic state except South Carolina. He would have prevailed in every state bordering Mexico, including Texas, which the Democrats haven't won since 1976." Bernie ran a heroic campaign. In June 2015 about 16 months before the election, I witnessed the effect of one of his earliest speeches at a time when his popularity was said to be about 2%. I felt in my soul and said to anyone who would listen, that Bernie can touch the hearts of the American people; he can be our next president, unless it is stolen from him. There are many ways that elections and primaries can be rigged or stolen -- some of them within the bounds of legality, and some of them definitely not. Major discrepancies in exit polling data compared to final results always favored one candidate, and one candidate alone: Hillary Clinton. The outcomes in New York and California, particularly, raise questions that need to be answered. His was not a perfect campaign, either -- too much emphasis, perhaps, on socialist giveaways, which, by the way, is not really why people got excited about him. But anyone who sensed his authenticity -- especially those who have watched him over decades fighting for the well-being of the average American, and making wise choices in foreign policy -- knew that Bernie could be trusted to do the right thing. Up in the Northeast Kingdom region of Vermont where Democrats are few and far between it was common at election times to see signs for Bernie and Bush in the front yards of farmers and the working poor. These hard-scrabble conservatives understood that Bernie, to use that now so popular military expression, "had their back." Hillary, always the handmaiden of neo-liberalism, would have continued Obama's subservience to the financial fraudulence of Wall Street. This is what the Democratic Party has become. The Democratic Party has become a partner to oligarchy, to neo-liberal economics, and to neo-con militarism. Even under the benign, gracious, and mild administration of Barack Obama bad things have happened: vicious and counterproductive drone attacks have multiplied; the relatively wise and moderate Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was removed without explanation and replaced with "liberal" neo-con, Ashton Carter; the financial fraud of the banksters has gone unpunished; fracking continues unabated despite local resistance; GMO and agribusiness lobbyists rule the Department of Agriculture claiming science is on their side, "science" they paid for; more whistleblowers have been prosecuted than in any previous administration; more weapons than ever have been sold, including to Saudi Arabia, which continues to use them to slaughter many thousands of innocent civilians in Yemen; the Ukraine was subjected to an illegal American organized and financed coup, and eventually turned over to fascistic nationalists, GMO promoting agribusiness, and frackers, meanwhile blaming Russia for aggression in Crimaea; while certain elements of the US government continue to incite and threaten Russia, Iran, and China. Meanwhile, those in denial of present realities still cling to the idea that the Democratic party has been the party of humane liberalism, progressive ideals, and the wishes of the vast majority of Americans. They congratulate themselves for the unwieldy and problematic Affordable Care Act, minor gains in environmental protection and alternative energies, and the relatively small cultural victories, the "boutique political issues" such as gay and transgender rights. And let us remember that the crown jewel of Hillary's reign at the State Department, the Iran Nuclear Treaty, may have been an exaggerated solution to a nearly nonexistent problem: neither did United States intelligence nor any international watchdog agency actually accuse let alone prove Iran had a weapons program. Furthermore, the religious dictatorship of Iran, whatever one thinks of it, has always maintained that nuclear weapons are strictly against Islamic law and have no practical use anyway. The neo-con agenda which aims at full-spectrum dominance in a uni-polar world must always seek to create enemies to justify the growth of the military-industrial complex and its own twisted sense of purpose. In the area of finance, the Democrats have failed to question the actualities of the Federal Reserve Bank, oblivious to the idea that it is an unconstitutional, and therefore illegal, privately owned monopoly that creates money merely by entering numbers in a computer and whose books remain un-audited and inaccessible the public. Most liberals seem to have no idea that without the Federal Reserve's cooperation, the military-industrial complex could not proceed with its lavish expenditures, because the American people would not tolerate the cost to themselves, costs that are now hidden and paid for by the central bank's capacity to supply as much money as the war machine needs. This is an area never mentioned by Democratic politicians, and yet it is at the heart of what is impoverishing Americans and enriching the .01%. Americans are confused. They have the sense that something is really wrong, that great injustices are being perpetrated, that their lives and their futures are being taken from them, and not really knowing who to blame, not being able to sufficiently connect the dots, or connect any dots for that matter, many of them would rather hurl rocks through the window of the establishment for no good reason other than to register their protest. The so-called "deplorables" have voted against the deplorable policies of both the Republican and Democratic parties. Even though poll after poll reveals that the vast majority of Americans support what are basically progressive policies, too many Americans allow themselves to be coerced by fears, by scapegoating, by false patriotism and the delusions of American exceptionalism. And the Democrats, for their part, need to not only clarify a progressive vision for this country, hammering hard on the oligarchy, the financial tyranny, the wastefulness of the military-industrial complex, the bogus and counterproductive "War on Terror." These forces need to be confronted on the basis of both moral values and fiscal responsibility. Perhaps in this election Americans sensed that they had no real choice, and so a surprising number defiantly chose what even they realized was the nihilistic option. Other Americans, including those who voted for Trump, are not the enemy. The lack of empathy on both sides of the divide only contributes to further polarization. If Americans are given a real alternative to neo-liberal economic tyranny and neoconservative militarism, would they make the wrong, disastrous choice again? There are truths that need to be communicated to the wounded and/or hardened hearts of the American people, communicated by leaders who can break through the false reality maintained by mainstream and even "alternative" media, who can speak with authenticity and heart. The consideration of Rep. Keith Ellison has head of the Democratic National Committee is promising. The Democratic Party, or perhaps some new Independent Party, could "make America great again" by remembering that America, despite its faults, once had a heart, and could have it again. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

05 декабря 2016, 23:17

Kobach is Wrong, Barring Refugees Would Hurt National Security

By Eleanor Acer Just days before the nation celebrated Thanksgiving, an AP photographer snapped a picture of Kris Kobach's proposed Homeland Security plan for the Trump Administration. Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and a candidate for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary, apparently presented President-elect Trump with a Homeland Security "strategic plan" to "Bar the Entry of Potential Terrorists." But rather than focusing on actual terrorists, the proposed plan appears to broadly target immigrants and refugees from "high-risk" areas and aims to reduce the U.S. resettlement of Syrian refugees "to zero." The Kobach plan seeks to resurrect the disbanded National Security Exit-Entry Registration System (NSEERS), often referred to as the "Muslim registry," which targeted immigrants and refugees from 25 countries based on religion and national origin for registration, interrogation and in some cases deportation. A report issued by the inspector general for DHS concluded that the program had actually had "no discernible public benefit." As the Bush Administration's former INS Commissioner, James W. Ziglar, explained: "The people who could be identified as terrorists weren't going to show up. This project was a huge exercise and caused us to use resources in the field that could have been much better deployed." The Kobach plan's goal of reducing the resettlement of Syrian refugees "to zero" makes clear that the true purpose of the Kobach plan is to prevent refugees and immigrants from Syria and other mostly Muslim nations from entering, or being welcomed in, the United States. The irony is that such a plan would actually hurt U.S. national security interests. Retired military leaders and former high level national security officials who have served both Democratic and Republican Administrations have publicly explained--in bipartisan letters, statements and op-eds--that they oppose proposals that would effectively halt or derail Syrian resettlement, and that resettlement actually advances U.S. national security interests. In December 2015, a bipartisan group of former national security officials and retired military leaders told the U.S. Congress that: "We believe that America can and should continue to provide refuge to those fleeing violence and persecution without compromising the security and safety of our nation. To do otherwise would be contrary to our nation's traditions of openness and inclusivity, and would undermine our core objective of combating terrorism." This group included former National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley, Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Former CIA Directors General David H. Petraeus, U.S. Army (Ret.) and General Michael V. Hayden, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Admiral James G. Stavridis, U.S. Navy (Ret.) and Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and Former National Security Advisor General James L. Jones, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.). Earlier this year, another bipartisan group of former national security officials and retired military leaders issued a Statement on America's Commitment to Refugees, which stressed that "Accepting refugees, and encouraging other countries to do so, advances U.S. interests by supporting the stability of our allies struggling to host large numbers on their own." Former U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, explained that resettlement could help relieve the strain on U.S. allies like Jordan, countries whose infrastructures are affected by the stress of hosting many refugees. "[L]eft unaddressed," he warned, "the strain will feed instability and trigger more violence across the region, which will have consequences for U.S. national security." In the Statement on America's Commitment to Refugees, these former officials and retired military leaders also emphasized this country's strong commitment to protecting the persecuted: "For more than two centuries, the idea of America has pulled toward our shores those seeking liberty, and it has ensured that they arrive in the open arms of our citizens. That is why the Statue of Liberty welcomes the world's 'huddled masses yearning to breathe free,' and why President Reagan stressed the United States as "a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness." The statement's signatories included Former Secretary of Defense and U.S. Senator William S. Cohen, Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Former Director of the CIA General Michael V. Hayden, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), Former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Michael E. Leiter, Former U.S. Senator Carl M. Levin, Former Commander of U.S. Army Europe General David M. Maddox, U.S. Army (Ret.), Former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew G. Olsen, Former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Admiral James G. Stavridis, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Former Homeland Security Advisor Frances F. Townsend and Former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. Both groups of former officials confirmed that refugees are already more rigorously vetted than any other travelers to the United States. As the second group detailed, "Americans are rightly concerned not only for the security of refugees but their own as well. For this reason, refugees are vetted more thoroughly than any other category of traveler seeking to arrive in the United States. The security process includes screenings by national and international intelligence agencies, fingerprint and other biometric data checks against terrorist and criminal databases, and multiple rounds of interviews." As members of the Trump team move ahead with the transition process, they will have substantial opportunities to be briefed by U.S. intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security on the extensive vetting and security clearance checks employed in the refugee resettlement program. They will also be able to hear from U.S. allies, U.S. intelligence agencies and U.S. embassy staff around the world how important it is--in terms of U.S. interests--for the United States to support front-line refugee hosting states. By continuing this country's proud tradition of resettling refugees, America will also demonstrate to both ISIL terrorists and the growing far-right movements emboldening bias-motivated attacks across Europe that America stands for religious freedom and knows that it has the strength to safeguard its security without abandoning its ideals and targeting religious minorities. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

29 ноября 2016, 18:14

Will the Department of Defense Invest in People or Technology?

The Trump administration will determine the future of the Third Offset, a plan for ensuring the long-term competitive advantage of the U.S. armed forces.

11 ноября 2016, 20:53

How the Secretary of the US Air Force Builds Innovation through Diversity and Inclusion

ARLINGTON, VA - JANUARY 24: (L-R) U.S. Secretary of State Chuck Hagel, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III stand for the national anthem during James' ceremonial swearing in at the Pentagon January 24, 2014 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by Chip [...]

05 ноября 2016, 16:08

Will a President Clinton micromanage foreign policy?

Many defense and foreign policy leaders hope that Clinton, if elected, will jettison Obama’s insular approach to decision-making.

11 октября 2016, 15:57

ИГИЛ использует промахи США для агитации

Исламские радикалы используют промахи американской стороны в своей агитации

25 февраля 2014, 13:37

Пентагон намерен сократить численность армии ("BBCRussian.com", Великобритания)

Пентагон намеревается сократить ряды американских вооруженных сил до самого минимального размера со времен Второй мировой войны. Как сообщил глава министерства обороны США Чак Хэйгел, эта мера обусловлена необходимостью экономии средств. Хэйгел представил бюджет вооруженных сил на 2015 год. Предполагается, например, что под сокращение попадут некоторые виды реактивных самолетов, используемых еще со времен холодной войны. Однако главные сокращение коснутся личного состава. Ожидается, что число военнослужащих сократится с нынешних 520 тысяч до 440-450 тысяч человек. После участия в двух обременительных для бюджета военных кампаниях в адрес оборонного ведомства США со стороны либеральных кругов звучат настойчивые призывы ограничить расходы. Для того чтобы план вступил в силу, требуется одобрение конгресса, который может внести в него изменения. Непростые решения По словам Хэйгела, настала пора взглянуть в глаза реальности. «Этот бюджет соответствует реальности относительно масштабов тех финансовых вызовов, которые стоят перед нами», — сказал министр. «Вскоре нам предстоит принимать непростые решения. Это реальность, в которой мы живем», — добавил он. Пентагон ранее планировал сократить число военных до 490 тысяч после вывода своих войск из Афганистана в конце нынешнего года. Новый план учитывает предполагаемое снижение затрат, а также прекращение участия американской армии в вооруженных конфликтах в Ираке и Афганистане, о чем в свое время говорил американский президент Барак Обама. По словам Хэйгела, администрация США также рекомендовала закрыть некоторые военные базы на территории страны к 2017 году. Впрочем, до сих пор аналогичные предложения неоднократно отклонялись конгрессом. Глава Пентагона сообщил также, что изменения косн6утся также сферы материального довольствия военнослужащих. Предложенная им программа предусматривает ограничение жилищных субсидий и ежегодного повышения жалования, а также увеличение размеров выплат в страховые фонды. «Необходимо поддерживать институт армии в боевой готовности, но нельзя содержать огромный массив сухопутных войск, когда не ведется сухопутная война», — заявил высокопоставленный представитель Пентагона в интервью New York Times. Удар по боеспособности Он добавил, что предлагаемые сокращения не скажутся на боеспособности американских вооруженных сил, но их потенциала будет недостаточно, чтобы вести продолжительные военные кампании в других странах. Тем не менее наблюдатели прогнозируют, что предложенные администрацией Обамы меры вызовут серьезные споры на Капитолийском холме, где уже идут приготовления к промежуточным выборам, которые состоятся в ноябре. Реакция на предложения Хэйгела была незамедлительной: республиканцы выступили с предостережением, что подобные сокращения способны нанести ущерб боеготовности государства. «Мир не становится более безопасным. Сейчас не лучше время для нас начинать отступление, и совершенно точно — не время для сокращения вооруженных сил», — сказал в интервью Bloomberg News член палаты представителей от Республиканской партии Майкл Тернер. Председатель комитета по вопросам внутренней безопасности в палате представителей Майкл Маккоул обвинил администрацию Обамы в возникновении финансовых затруднений, сказав, что сокращения в оборонной сфере понадобились только лишь потому, что они не осуществляются в других областях. По состоянию на 2000 год, численность американской армии составляла 482 тыс. военнослужащих. После атаки на башни Всемирного торгового центра 11 сентября 2001 года это число неуклонно росло, достигнув в 2010 году максимума в 566 тысяч человек. Источник: ]]>ИноСМИ ]]>25.02.2014 Оригинал публикации: ]]>BBCRussian.com]]> Дата: февраль 2014Теги: НовостиАналитикаВооруженные силыРегионы: Северная АмерикаСШАНАТОПроблематика: ПроблематикаВоенно-политическаяСсылки: Хейгел Чак